After enjoying an impressive start to his BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship (AORC) career, Paul Weel is ready to take the next step in 2022.
Although the 2021 AORC season was ultimately called off due to border restrictions, the Victorian notched up solid results in his two events to finish the year in fourth place on the standings.
Making his AORC debut during the Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399 in South East Queensland, Weel’s consistency in the former Toby Price Trophy Truck helped him secure fifth place over West Australian Shane Elphinstone by seven seconds.
The former Supercars driver then showed no signs of pressure during the biggest race on the calendar with a P12 in his first attempt of the Tatts Finke Desert Race alongside navigator Andrew Reid.
Although initially disappointed with his impressive top 20 finish in his maiden Finke appearance, Weel was looking forward to building on his season for a better crack next year.
“I think my first season in the AORC was okay,” Weel said.
“I am probably a bit disappointed with Finke, but it was our first time there and we learned a lot – especially how long and important qualifying is there.
“We did some good racing and we had decent qualifying runs in both rounds, so there is something I can build on for the future.
“Driving a trophy truck is vastly different to what I have driven before, even other off road vehicles. They are different beasts and you have to utilise different skills.
“With that said, I really loved racing in the AORC this year. It’s just totally different to any other category I have raced in before and even though we’re all racing hard against each other, there is such great camaraderie amongst the competitors – more than any other discipline.”
Weel can take plenty of confidence away from his first season in the championship and his ambition to improve in 2022 has been give a major boost after he purchased a new truck from Geiser Brothers in the United States.
The new truck is on track to be completed early in the New Year, with Weel planning to head over to the US to do a week of testing before bringing it back to Australia in readiness for March’s St George 399.
While he plans to campaign the new truck in all six rounds of the AORC, Weel also hopes to race in the US with extra seat time important for his development.
“After Finke, we decided to commit to running a brand new car as a way to help us progress a little bit more and to get a little bit quicker,” Weel explained.
“There have been some delays for obvious reasons, but hopefully the truck will be ready by mid-January, and we will fly to the States to test the truck.
“We will end up doing a fair bit more testing before we bring it out to Australia because the beauty about the US is that there are so many places to test and everything is so big.
“It’s quite difficult to test in Australia because there aren’t that many places to do so and the more time I can spend in the car, the more I will learn, which will make me a better driver.
“Having this new truck should be a step ahead in technology, so it’s going to help us have a bit more of a charge towards the title next year.
“We know what we need to do to perform better and if we can put everything together right – we could be in a good position for the championship.”
The 2022 BFGoodrich Motorsport Australia Off Road Championship begins with the Cobb & Co Hotel St George 399 on 18-20 March.